South Shields Ladies host Norton and Stockton Ancients on Sunday as the Mariners look to progress to the second round of the Women’s FA Cup for the first time.
Shields comfortably dispatched Morecambe 5-0 in the third qualifying round courtesy of goals from Becki McMahon, Caitlin Bates, Jade Dryden and Gabby Pedersen.
The Mariners are unbeaten since Ben Garrity’s appointment as head coach, and the Ladies are in high spirits ahead of the visit of Norton.
Garrity said: “The whole squad is really looking forward to Sunday’s game.
“It’s a massive chance for the girls to show what they’re capable of against a good side from the league above.
“It’s also one I’m really looking forward to.
“These games are why people play football and want to be involved with the sport.”
Garrity believes the Mariners have what it takes to topple their Teesside opponents.
He added: “I have full confidence in the full squad.
“Every training session we have, you can see the lasses coming on massively which is fantastic to see, and I think the last three results show how far the lasses have come in the short time we’ve been working together.
“It’s full credit to them for putting the hard work in and now we are seeing the benefits in terms of results.”
Shields have never reached the second round of the Women’s FA Cup, but a victory on Sunday would be a great statement of intent.
Garrity continued: “This is a massive chance for the lasses to show what they’re capable of and like every game, we go into it believing we can turn up and come away with the win and in this case be in the hat for the next round.
“Not only would it be a fantastic achievement for the lasses, we would also be making history for South Shields Ladies as we’ve never been in the second round of the FA Cup, so that would also be massive for us.”
Shields were held to a 2-2 draw in their last outing against Ossett United on Sunday, but played in front of a bumper crowd at 1st Cloud Arena.
On the support, Garrity said: “The support we had in our game against Ossett last week was fantastic and the lasses and myself took real pride and enjoyment in having all of the support.
“We will need all of that support again this Sunday in hope that they can be the 12th player to help push us over the line for the win.”
The Mariners kick off at 2pm on Sunday at Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare. Entry is free and all support would be greatly appreciated.
South Shields left it late against Chester-le-Street United as the Mariners ran out 3-2 winners in the second qualifying round of the Women’s FA Cup.
For the third consecutive Sunday, the Mariners were involved in a 3-2 scoreline but they were on the right end of it this time thanks to two goals in the final nine minutes.
Isla Maggs had given Scott Curtis’ side an early lead but they looked like they were heading out of the competition when the visitors turned things around to go 2-1 ahead at Harton Welfare.
Late strikes from Caitlin Bates and Natalie May clinched the tie for Shields, though, as they edged out their plucky opponents.
The Mariners had enjoyed an impressive opening to the game, having created their first chance with less than a minute on the clock. Bates tried her luck from the edge of the area but the goalkeeper made a comfortable save.
A golden opportunity to open the scoring followed soon after as Eve Gatens did brilliantly to put Becki McMahon through on goal, and she forced a double save from the goalkeeper.
Shields found the goal they had been threatening in the 11th minute when a ball across the box by Bates caused confusion and Maggs was in the right place to tap home.
However, Chester-le-Street hit back immediately. A whipped cross sneaked into the far post, just as it looked to be heading wide.
The home side looked for a swift response as McMahon found herself through on goal again. The goalkeeper made a fantastic save, before Bates’ effort was cleared off the line.
It was Chester-le-Street who took the lead soon afterwards. In similar fashion to the first goal, another cross found its way into the far post.
The Mariners almost pulled the game level as Bates played the ball back to Maggs inside the area, but her strike was just wide.
Chester-le-Street nearly doubled their lead midway through the second half. Scarlett Gowans produced a parried save but breathed a sigh of relief when the rebound was lobbed over the bar.
Gatens then had a great chance to level the scores for Shields. Bates floated in a great corner, but the goalkeeper somehow kept Gatens’ effort out from point-blank range.
The Mariners found the equaliser shortly afterwards as a great run and pass from McMahon found Bates in the area, and she turned and fired a low left-footed strike into the bottom corner.
In the dying embers of the game, Shields found a winner. After Gatens’ effort was stopped on the line, the ball sat up kindly for May, who volleyed from the edge of the area and found the top corner.
After the game, match-winner May said: “It’s a really nice feeling.
“Scott has been telling me to get forward and shoot more often, so to see that go in was great.
“We weren’t at our best but we dug in and got the result in the end, so we need to build on this.
“The important thing is that we are through to the next round.”